There are many stories on social media of moms being shamed for breastfeeding in public. One recent incident in Omaha involved a mom who was breastfeeding her baby at the Lake Zorinsky Aquatic Center. Apparently, the mom was told she could only nurse in the public bathroom or in her car. The City of Omaha responded that there was a misunderstanding and that there is no policy against breastfeeding at the City of Omaha pools.
In fact, in 2011, Nebraska passed a law stating, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”
Just recently, Utah and Idaho signed bills into law to protect nursing mothers, so now breastfeeding in public is finally legal in all 50 states.
As mothers breastfeed, they get very accustomed to feeding their baby in this natural way and it gets easier and more comfortable for them to nurse in public. Some moms feel more comfortable covering up while breastfeeding, but they are certainly not obligated to.
Here are some tips to make breastfeeding in public easier however you choose to do it:
- Wear convenient clothing for nursing in. Have nursing bras that the flap unclips easily with one hand. Two piece outfits and loose fitting tops that can be draped over you and baby. Button down shirts are handy to wear in addition to layering. Nursing tanks can be worn with a blouse or cardigan and are easy to work with for a variety of outfits. Breastfeeding Support & Supplies stocks a wide selection of nursing bras and tanks.
- Nursing covers, scarves and shawls can give you extra coverage if you prefer to be more discreet. Nursing covers have rigid necklines so you can look down at baby but still have privacy from people around you. Scarves and shawls can be a part of an outfit you are already wearing and are easy to drape over you and baby while nursing. Breastfeeding Support & Supplies has Hooter Hider and Baby Au Lait nursing covers in a variety of colors and prints.
- Baby wraps and slings are an ideal way to wear baby and discreetly nurse at the same time. You can keep baby close while taking a walk or going shopping and allow baby easy access to the breast. Mothers are multitaskers anyway, so this keeps both mom and baby happy while getting other chores done. Breastfeeding Support & Supplies carries Sling E Zee and Moby Wraps in a variety of colors. Diane will put your baby carrier on you and tuck your baby in so you know how to use it correctly.
- Practice nursing at home in front of a mirror. This will give you an idea of how much skin you have exposed and what potential bystanders may see. It will also boost your self confidence to nurse comfortably in public.
- Start out nursing in public with other breastfeeding moms. Hospital breastfeeding support groups and La Leche League meetings are a great way to get support from other breastfeeding moms. If you have errands to run or shopping to do, bring a friend or another breastfeeding mom with you to shield you if you like or just be there for support and encouragement.
- Find a comfortable place for you and baby to sit. Some public places, such as malls and airports, have designated lactation rooms. Even Vala’s Pumpkin Patch has one! If you are in a department store, use the fitting rooms to privately breastfeed. Your stroller or shopping cart can be placed in front of you to provide a shield for privacy. If anyone tells you to go to a bathroom stall to nurse, ask them if they would eat their lunch sitting on the toilet. They are likely to say absolutely not!
- Take advantage of the ease of breastfeeding on the go and minimize unnecessary accessories. Instead of a nursing pillow, double up a thick baby blanket or use your diaper bag for a pillow. As your baby gets bigger, they will be able to just sit on your lap.
- Older babies get distracted while breastfeeding so try to find a quiet, more secluded spot. Often times, they are not receptive to being covered while nursing or will think you are playing a game of hide and seek. If your baby is likely to throw off the cover, be prepared to be comfortable handling the situation in public.
- Be ready for negative comments. Most moms are able to breastfeed in public without even being noticed much less hassled. But if you are out and about often nursing your baby, you may be faced with some unsolicited comments about where and how you are feeding your baby. Be prepared with a simple, straightforward response such as “I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable but I need to feed my hungry baby”. If you feel threatened, contact the establishment where you were trying to breastfeed. Businesses do not want their customers to have a negative experience, especially when it is quickly spread over social media.
So, don’t be afraid of breastfeeding in public wherever you are and whenever your baby is hungry! The more our children and the general population get exposed to breastfeeding in public, the more it becomes normalized in our culture. If mothers continually hide when breastfeeding in public, many people will never have the opportunity to see that babies can be fed the natural way without a bottle of formula.